Colton Smith, Auto Parts Store Assistant Manager; Marion, Virginia:
[When asked about his love for automobiles] “Oh, yeah! I bet I’ve built twenty-two Chevrolet trucks over the past twenty years. [Rebuilt his first vehicle at age 12.] You probably seen it, I brought it to the car show. ’81 Chevrolet short bed. [It took] three months. Yeah, we redid it. Off the frame, restored it.
[When asked who taught him to work on vehicles.] That man right there. That’s my dad. We painted it orange, put a big Dukes of Hazzard 01 on the side of it. Four-speed, 350 4 bolt main, thirty over. Had a set of forties on it, pretty nice, old truck. Hot rod. Oh, yeah. We don’t build nothing, but a hot rod.
I don’t believe many city people could have done it. Honestly. I got a ‘84 ¾-ton we’re redoing. It’s gonna have 44’s on it, and a 454, when I get it done. [Will he sell it?] Yep, to somebody that wants ‘em more than I do.
[I’m] Twenty, I’ll be twenty-one in September [and just] bought a brand new truck. Spent forty-two grand on it, but I like it. I wouldn’t own nothing, but a Chevrolet.
I grew up on twenty-five acres. We had fifteen Tennessee Walkers at one point [and] rode all the time. I had a horse one time; it was like a frigging dog. I ain’t kidding! One time, I left the gate open. I was probably eleven, and I left the gate open. That sucker followed me home, and was sitting on the back porch, looking through the window. That ain’t no joke.
Tractor plowed, put up hay, cut tobacco --- all the nine yards. I loved it, man. There’s just no other place like it. Go out there on your back porch, and not worry about nobody else. You know, we’ve never locked our house door, and I always leave the keys in my truck. You can’t do that anywhere else.
Every time was fun. Not many thirteen, fourteen year olds can jump in a pond, and play with catfish. You know how that goes. I fish all the time. We have a house in Ridge Valley now. It’s got a big, old pond. We put two hundred fifty catfish in it this spring. Not much on hunting. I don’t like the cold.
That’s about it. [I] build cars and farm.
[Toughest time] Probably when I lost my grandpa, honestly. I was ten years old. Yeah, rough times. He was just; he was my idol, man. I hung out with him every day. He’d put me on the school bus, and get me off the school bus. He learnt me everything I knew. [He] farmed and everything, on his days off. He was the third man at W-L, a construction company out of Chilhowie [Virginia]. He was there forever. He built 81 [I-81]. Every time I smell asphalt, I think of pawpaw.
[To me, a hillbilly is] somebody that goes up in the mountains. [The media] just portrays us like bad people still living in the 1700’s with slaves. The media has just blown up this little thing, the south. You can’t be a southerner no more. It’s just a bad thing to be.
It’s all the same, all the time. You know everybody. You don’t know a stranger over here.
You don’t ever see anybody sad in the mountains. Everybody has tough times; people in the mountains deal with ‘em. They don’t worry about it. It will always get better. God’s all right.”